Q-and-A with the Zen Mafia

These aren’t your average yoga classes.

The Zen Mafia offers a variety of unique yoga classes to help you find your inner peace and practice your down dogs. We talked with founders and friends, Stephanie Kazanjian and Kelly Cambio, after trying a class first-hand. The class was held at Providence Bagel where yogis had the chance to munch on post yoga carbs, sip kombucha and create their own bagel flavor. The winning bagel will be offered for one day only on Providence Bagel’s menu!        

How did you and begin teaching yoga and how long have you been teaching for?

KC:I have been fitness oriented my entire life, spending most of my time in the gym. After having a C-section and losing all strength in the abdomen, I found that I loved what Pilates was doing for my body. I then decided to branch out and try yoga. Juggling three kids and already being a spiritual person, I felt at home on my yoga mat. It is truly a place for meditation, to quiet the ever-racing mind and a place to not feel guilty about the time spent on myself – The mind-body benefits make for a more peaceful and happy mom. A few years later, I decided to get certified in teaching yoga. I also have a fitness nutrition certification and have since been Usui Reiki Master certified to round out the entire mind-body offerings the Mafia has to offer.

SK:I have been teaching yoga for two years and practicing for five. I began my journey on my mat, struggling with anxiety and pushing through my forty-five-hour work week. At the time, I was a practice manager at a busy specialty clinic and was in need of a release for my mind and spine. I found that with yoga and was instantly hooked! After my daughter was born, I left my job in search for one with more suitable mother hours and made the decision to do yoga teacher training. Post-graduation, I taught at six different studios, gaining knowledge, experience and opinions of what students really wanted. Zen Mafia was soon formed thereafter. We want our yogis to feel like our yoga events and classes are a safe place for them and that we are family.


How did you come up with the concept for Zen Mafia?
The concept for event classes began with a feeling that everyone should be practicing yoga, including the people who don’t and mention that they want too even if they seem resistant to try. The people who are initially scared to try yoga, leave our classes adding it to their list of things they love. Even seasoned yogis bored with the typical yoga class or looking to deepen their practice, have options within these events to grow beyond the typical class.


What type of events do you offer?

We offer regular, weekly themed studio classes at our Zen Mafia Zen Den as well as yoga events at a variety of locations (our local partners) all around Rhode Island. We have done a facials and yoga class, yoga in a salt room, brunch yoga, axe throwing yoga, cupping yoga, aura reading yoga, yoga and martinis or wine, yoga with donuts, yoga in the vineyard and so many more. Whatever our Mafia of yogis requests we make it happen! Some events are only done once, but most events resurface in a different way.


What types of classes do you offer in your studio?
Our studio classes are called studio event classes because they all have a theme. Giving each class a focus helps students to pick a class that best suits their style of practice and keeps things fresh and interesting. We currently offer ten regularly scheduled studio event classes, ranging from kids, to power, Vinyasa, heated, restorative, spa, yin and more. Both Kelly and I teach in studio.


What is the most popular class or event you offer?
The most popular yoga classes we offer are usually classes with something new that our yogis have been wanting to try. We always tell our Mafia, ‘ask and you shall receive.’ It’s also interesting in certain events when you can see the physical and mental change in students post yoga and how that applies to whatever we are pairing it with.


Can you comment on the yoga classes you offer for wedding parties?
We love our brides and grooms! The stressed-out couple and their family may be in need of yoga during planning or on their big day. Our wedding offerings range from bachelorette yoga with bubbles and a tailored playlist from our DJ, to sunrise yoga the morning of the wedding with the whole family who traveled in. Some brides also do group yoga for themselves and their bridesmaids leading up to their big day as a stress reliever. Others may also do a private session with their fiancé for relationship building.


Is there anything fun in the works for Zen Mafia?
We have so many exciting events coming up to look forward too including drip bar yoga and axe throwing yoga. We can’t wait to meet everyone on their mat!


A full list of events can be found online at thezenmafia.com.

The Zen Mafia, 300 Morgan Ave., Johnston, 451-2925.